Embark on a Journey of Discovery During New York State Museum Week: May 31 – June 6

New York State  is celebrating the diversity and richness of its museums by inviting residents and visitors alike to discover the fascinating worlds of art, photography, history, science, pop-culture and more.  From May 31 to June 6, more than 200 museums across the state will be part of the inaugural New York State Museum Week and will offer special events, activities and promotions to give guests a sample of the exhibitions and programs available at the nearly 2,000 museums located throughout New York.

Updated May 16, 2012

Select museums in the Finger Lakes region are offering FREE admission to kids and teens ages 19 and under.  Morgen McLaughlin, president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism and Marketing Association, said,

Finger Lakes Wine Country is rich with cultural diversity,  Our region has a strong history in winemaking, but also glassmaking, aviation, literature, agriculture, and art.  We are thrilled to be participating in New York State Museum Week and showcasing some of the best cultural attractions that New York State has to offer.”

The museums offering free admission to kids and teens include:

    • The Corning Museum of Glass
    • Rockwell Museum of Western Art
    • Patterson Inn Museum Complex
    • Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
    • Arnot Art Museum
    • Chemung Valley History Museum
    • Wings of Eagles Discovery Center and Museum
    • National Soaring Museum
    • Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum
    • Oliver House and L. Caroline Underwood Museums
    • Schuyler County Historical Museum (free admission for all ages)
    • International Motor Research Center (free admission for all ages)
    • Steuben County Historical Center (free admission for all ages)

Way to go Finger Lakes!  I’m proud of my home region, and this Dad will definitely be checking out some of these local attractions – Soaring Museum, here we come.

Original article from May 15, 2012 follows below:

New York State Senator Betty Little wants to see New Yorkers in particular out exploring their home state,

As the summer season kicks into gear and vacation ideas come to mind, let’s not forget the wonderful resources we have in our own ‘backyards’, especially our museums.  One needn’t travel far for a culturally and educationally enriching experience.  New York’s diverse array of museums, historic homes, zoos and botanical gardens offer something for everyone and every family.

From living art exhibits in zoos and botanical gardens to art centers, historic homes and sites, and children’s and transportation museums, New York State offers enriching experiences to suit all tastes.  Highlighted below are a few of the participating museums from around the state.

Children’s Museums

•    Strong National Museum of Play: Rochester (Finger Lakes)
Let your children play the roles that entertain them daily on television at the Strong National Museum of Play, a world devoted solely to play!  The museum blends the best features of both history and children’s museums which makes it appropriate for parents and children.  Kids enjoy the National Toy Hall of Fame, an indoor butterfly garden, a 1918 working carousel and a circulating library.

•    Long Island Children’s Museum: Garden City (Long Island)
The Long Island Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum for kids and their grown-ups. With 14 fabulously themed galleries and a 145-seat theater, the whole family has a wide range of fun activities. Children will love exploring the two-story ClimbIt© structure with ramps going up and down in a spiral pattern. They can create giant bubbles in the Bubble Gallery, make “rain” in the outdoor Our Backyard gallery, play musical instruments, learn about Long Island and much more.

•    Children’s Museum of Science and Technology: Troy (Capital-Saratoga)
The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology is the only science center in the Tech Valley designed specifically for kids and parents to ‘Explore, Discover, and Imagine’ the world of science together. Children gain hands-on science and technology experience in creative ways such as ‘veggie science’ and the ‘young explorers’ computer lab. The museum’s Living Indoor Hudson River exhibit allows guests to travel from the river’s source in the Adirondacks all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The Go Power…Naturally teaches kids about new green energy technologies.

Living Museums

•    The Wild Center: Tupper Lake (Adirondacks)
The Wild Center, located in Adirondack Park, is committed to helping people understand and explore the natural wonder that is the Adirondacks.  There are swimming otters, engaging exhibits and plenty to discover outside and inside at the Center.  Visitors can explore the 31-acre campus on marked trails with or without guides, watch films at one of the Center’s many theaters, participate in hands-on activities and observe hundreds of live animals from rare native trout, to porcupines, hawks, and many other often hard-to-see residents of the woods and waters.

•    The Bronx Zoo: The Bronx (New York City)
As the nation’s largest metropolitan wildlife preserve, The Bronx Zoo has more than 4,000 animals on its sprawling 265 acres of land—much of which has been transformed into natural habitats.  The Congo Gorilla Forest, home to two families of lowland primates, is the largest re-creation of an African rain forest on the planet.  Other highlights include daily sea lion feedings and bee-eating birds that catch their prey in mid-flight.

•    The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens: Buffalo (Greater Niagara)
This national historic site and education center spotlights exotic horticulture treasures and features three glass domes and nine greenhouses.  The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens are situated on 11.4 acres at the entrance to Buffalo’s historic South Park.  Although there are some North American plants, most are native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.  Highlights of the impressive gardens include the largest public ivy collection in the world, the Palm Dome filled with magnificent palms and tropical fruit trees and the Orchid house, showcasing a variety of exotic orchids.

History Museums

•    The New York State Museum: Albany (Capital-Saratoga)
The New York State Museum, the oldest and largest state museum in the country, features permanent and temporary exhibits reflecting New York State’s cultural, natural and geological development as well as a full slate of 200 public programs a year.  The museum’s collections have over 12 million pieces including the skeleton of the Cohoes Mastodon, which was found in 1866 on the Mohawk River; the New York Birds collection featuring over 170 species of New York birds displayed in their environmental settings; and exhibits on Harlem and 9/11.

•    Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site and Interpretive Center: West Hills (Long Island)
In 1819, Walt Whitman, widely recognized as one of America’s greatest poets, was born at a farmhouse in West Hills built by his father around 1810.  Purchased and restored by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, this historic site and interpretive center features 130 Whitman portraits, original letters, manuscripts, artifacts, Whitman’s voice on tape and schoolmaster’s desk.  Visitors can take guided tours, enjoy an audio-visual show or explore the Walk Whitman Trail, which begins at the Birthplace and weaves through West Hills County Park.

•    Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy: Jamestown (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
The Lucy-Desi Museum celebrates Lucille Ball, and her husband and co-star, Desi Arnaz.  Larger-than-life wall panels describing The First Couple of Comedy, interactive displays and video screenings offer an intimate look at these passionate, talented stars.  Costumes, gowns, photographs, letters, scripts and awards are among the memorabilia on display.  The Desilu Playhouse, located just down the street, displays exact replicas of the “I Love Lucy” television studio sound stages, including the Ricardos’ New York City apartment living room and kitchen as well as the Hollywood hotel suite where Lucy pantomimed with Harpo Marx and set her nose on fire with William Holden.

•    New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site: Vails Gate (Hudson Valley)
The Continental Army under General George Washington spent its last winter and spring of the Revolutionary War at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site.  It was here that the cease fire orders were issued to end the eight-year war.  From mid-April through October, visitors will find costumed staff demonstrating musket drills, blacksmithing, military medicine and other 18th century skills.  Other highlights include the reconstructed “Temple of Virtue,” which served as a chapel and office and the Mountainville Hut, perhaps the only surviving example of original timber construction by the Continental Army.  Year-round, guests can view two exhibits at the Visitor Center sharing the stories of the men and women who lived at the 1782-83 cantonment.

•    North Star Underground Railroad Museum: Ausable Chasm (Adirondacks)
Through poignant exhibits the North Star Underground Railroad Museum reveals the hidden history of the Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad, telling the compelling stories of fugitives from slavery who passed through Northeastern New York and the Champlain Valley on their way to Québec and Ontario, Canada.  Among the innovative displays are a multimedia production of the heartrending and triumphant story of John Thomas and his family.  The North Star Underground Railroad Museum also houses a series of informative displays depicting the debate over slavery and a regional exhibit which identifies safe-houses and illuminates the lives of the men and women who represented every stage of the antislavery struggle—from petitions to war.

•    The Erie Canal Museum: Syracuse (Finger Lakes)
The only existing weighlock building in the United States, the Erie Canal Museum collects and conserves Canal artifacts, champions an appreciation and understanding of Erie Canal history through educational programming and promotes awareness of the Canal’s transforming effects on the past, present and future of this country. The museum houses a gallery of exhibits that give visitors a look at canal life and promote hands-on learning, such as a re-creation of a packet boat.

Art Museums

•    Albright-Knox Art Gallery: Buffalo (Greater Niagara)
The renowned collection includes works by 20th-century artists such as Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock, as well as mid-1800s artists such as Monet and Renoir.  One of America’s oldest galleries, Albright-Knox was founded in 1862 and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.  Constantly changing installations and special exhibitions pair contemporary art with the masterworks of modernism.

•    George Eastman House: Rochester (Finger Lakes)
George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, combines the world’s oldest and most prestigious collections of photography and films with the stately pleasures of the landmark Colonial Revival mansion and gardens that George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, called home.  The photography collection encompasses more than 400,000 photographs and negatives dating from the invention of photography to the present day with highlights including a collection of Ansel Adams’ early and vintage prints, nineteenth-century photographs of the American West and one of the largest collections of daguerreotypes in the world.

•    The Hyde Collection: Glen Falls (Adirondacks)
The Hyde Collection offers a world-class group of works spanning nearly six thousand years of art history from antiquity to the present.  Housed in the historic Hyde House, the museum gives visitors a look at how the Collection has developed since the Hydes, the museum’s founders, first began collecting.  Beginning with Old Master paintings and drawings by such artists as Botticelli, Claude Lorrain, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens and Tiepolo and expanding as works by Cézanne, Degas, Picasso, Renoir, Seurat and van Gogh were acquired, the Collection will continue to grow.  The Hyde Collection welcomes visitors to experience an exciting schedule of special exhibitions, concerts, and lectures, as well as family and school programs.

•    The Johnson Museum: Ithaca (Finger Lakes)
Located on the Cornell University campus, the Johnson Museum has one of the finest collections of art in upstate New York and is recognized as one of the most important university museums in the country.  The permanent collection of more than 35,000 works of art ranging from the fifteenth century to the present includes African sculpture and textiles, pre-Columbian sculpture and ceramics, European art, modern and contemporary painting and sculpture, graphic arts and photographs.

•    The Everson Museum of Art: Syracuse (Finger Lakes)
The Everson Museum of Art specializes solely in American art.  The permanent collection, supplemented by rotating exhibitions, includes over 11,000 objects.  The Everson holds the most Robineau porcelains and one of the largest ceramic exhibits in the world.  The museum is home to nearly 700 American paintings as well as a collection of over 200 sculptures primarily of 20th century works, including pieces by Alexander Archipenko, Beverly Pepper, Leila Katzen, Ernest Trova, John DeAndrea, Claus Oldenberg, George Segal, Michael Tracy, Sol Lewitt and Mary Frank.

•    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): New York City
Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world.  Permanent collection highlights include Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, along with more recent works by Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Murray, Cindy Sherman, and many others.  MoMA also features edgy new exhibits and a celebrated film series, plus the “Architecture and Design” department, with examples of design for appliances, furniture, and even sports cars.  The heart of the museum however is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, which combines masterworks of modern sculpture with fountains and seasonal plantings.

•    The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world.  With over two million works of art spanning 5,000 years, the Met presents the best of human creativity from around the globe.  From the splendors of ancient Egypt and the spectacular New American Wing to the Met’s beloved Impressionist paintings, a world of great art awaits visitors at New York City’s most-visited museum.  In addition to the works housed inside the museum, visitors can take a trip to the Met’s other permanent collection, the Cloisters, America’s only museum dedicated exclusively to medieval art.  Gardens, tapestries, paintings and the cloisters themselves represent the diverse array of art that was created during this time, and the beautiful setting of Fort Tyron Park further enhances the visit.

•    Bethel Woods Center for the Arts: Bethel (Catskills)
The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts includes the Museum at Bethel Woods as well as multiple stages featuring concerts with popular artists.  The Museum at Bethel Woods tells the story of the Sixties and the Woodstock Music Festival through personal stories and profiles, multi-media exhibits and experiences, engaging programs and educational events.  At the entrance of the gallery, guests will see quotes and performance clips from Woodstock performers and attendees as well as Sixties icons and images.  There is a nine-minute multimedia presentation where visitors can experience the entire festival from the audience perspective.  Music enthusiasts can also enjoy concerts at the Pavilion Stage amphitheater located on the grounds.

Science Museums

•    Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) – Rochester (Finger Lakes)
The Rochester Museum & Science Center offers three floors of hands-on exhibitions exploring science and technology, natural science and the region’s cultural heritage.  Visitors to the 13-acre campus can take a trip into space at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, which presents giant-screen films on its four-story dome, original astronomy/star shows and spectacular rock music laser light shows.

•    The Sciencenter: Ithaca (Finger Lakes)
The Sciencenter inspires excitement for science through interactive exhibits and programs.  This hands-on museum has more than 250 exhibits for visitors of all ages, including the new “Ocean Bound!” where you can interact with 3-D watershed models, piloting a full-size submersible from mountain stream to ocean, navigating the water safely through a hazardous maze, diverting pollutants as they travel through storm-water drains and playing with early education exhibits inside a clubhouse.  The Sciencenter also features educational programs, a gift shop, an outdoor science park and a seasonal 18-hole miniature golf course.

Transportation Museums

•    Cradle of Aviation Museum: Garden City (Long Island)
The Cradle of Aviation Museum celebrates Long Island’s American aviation heritage through exhibits of historic aircrafts.  From hot air balloons and Long Island’s first flight in 1909 to planes built by Northrop Grumman, exhibits teach visitors about the Island’s significant role in the evolution of aviation.  In addition to a world-class collection of aircraft, the museum lays claim to Long Island’s only giant IMAX screen, the IMAX Dome Theater, which shows films daily.  The museum also features the Red Planet Cafe, a Mars-themed eatery.

•    Motorcyclepedia Museum: Newburgh (Hudson Valley)
Opened in April 2011, the Motorcyclepedia Museum features 400 motorcycles along with a collection of evocative photographs, posters, memorabilia, machinery and bike-related items.  The museum’s galleries range from the Indian Timeline and Chopper City to Harley-Davidson, American Motorcycle Foundation’s Gallery and the Wall of Death.  Other museum highlights include motorcycles for all fans including the 1915 Iver Johnson, the recreation of the Captain America chopper from Easy Rider and the amazing creations of Arlen Ness.

•    Northeast Classic Car Museum: Norwich (Central New York)
The Northeast Classic Car Museum houses hundreds of vehicles with displays including Auburns, Cords, Duesenbergs, Packards, Desotos, Franklins and other favorites from the 1950s and ’60s.  Informative videos, period fashions, WWI & WWII airplane engines, video and more enhance the museum experience.  In addition to the permanent collection, special exhibits are featured throughout the year.

For a full list of museums participating in New York State Museum Week, click here.

“The New York State Council on the Arts is proud to be part of the partnership that has brought Museum Week to citizens and visitors of New York State,” said Mr. Aby Rosen, Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts. “The participating organizations are fine examples of the variety of cultural and artistic expression offered to the general public in a broad array of settings and contexts.  It is not often one can truthfully boast: Museum Week offers something for everyone.”

For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.